Friday, August 31, 2012

The Best Is Now

My first quarter mile run just amazed me. Just couldn't believe I could do it. But, the more I believed the farther I went, and the the farther I went, the more I believed. Sometimes in present moments this gets forgotten. I smile at the doubts I had about my first 800 meter open water swim. But that day, I got all prayed up, believed, and swam farther than I had ever thought I could. My first 1500 meter open water swim was the same. Fear, doubt, prayer, believing, and going farther, praise God! Thank goodness God has not let me get too reasonable that I would fear to confront conventional wisdom. Sometimes when things get really rough in this sport, I get the impulse to do something absurd. Today, I did the absurd thing and just went out and swam 2 miles. This is farther than I have ever swam, done with recent back problems still reminding me of their visit. So, at a time I have wondered if it were time to quit, I am able to complete the best swim of my life. Is God saying go on? I think so. And who knows how much farther and better, I can swim-bike-run? No, it is not time to quit, but to indulge in the worldly absurdity of going from fear and doubt with prayer, faith, and believing; believing that the best is not behind, but the best is here; the best is now.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

A No-Boast Post

It is easy to take myself too seriously along this journey. Boundaries are confronted and overcome, hardship and disappointment dealt with, and the gravity is to say look what I have overcome. Look what I have done. Over the years I have found that that attitude is essentially calling in fire on my own position. God is teaching me humility, and I guess I must really need it because I keep getting repeat lessions. So, today, after a good 51 mile bike ride, a lessening in back pain, an absence of urinary problems on the bike, I am not going to boast at all about what I have done. Thank you God, is about allI am going to say. I am a slow learner, I suppose, but maybe this time, I will get it.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Is It Time for the Plain Sock Life?

Life will keep you down, if you let it. For almost a week, we had no internet due to someone drilling a posthole and cutting the phone line - yes, we have dial-up, hence no blog posts. And for almost a week my back and hips have been giving me the blues causing serious pain and serious doubts as to whether I can continue this training. Maybe I am finished? When I look at the race results of triathlons, Ironman events, etc, I see that the number of participants and finishers really taper off. By the time my age group is reached there are seldom more than half a dozen; sometimes only one or two. What happened to the numbers in younger age groups I once raced against? Perhaps it could just be life, and the toll it takes on the human body and more importantly, the human will, that cuts the numbers of survivors. So, with the aching back that won't seem to go away, the question rears its ugly head: is this it? Am I finished? Is there going to be even one less in my age group results? I pray about this with no clear answer. This morning, I reached for some athletic socks to wear and walked in the other room with them. When I began to get dressed and to put on the socks, I saw they were not the plain socks I thought I had, but socks for biking that I got in the packet of the half-ironman distance event I did. Maybe I am reading more into this simple mistake, but I began to fill my water bottles, pump up the long deflated tires on my bike. Perhaps there is still enough "stuff in the basement" that I really don't want the "plain sock life" just yet. So today, my prayer is for my name to remain among the few on the older age group results. And, when my name is finally taken away, I will have the assurance that I have "not gone gently into the night."

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Confronting the "Fervent Heat"

Just an observation: Everything moves slower in August. In Texas these are the “dog days.” Heat, humidity, and a searing sun saps the energy of the earth and its inhabitants like a giant parasite. The deer that once ran off upon my approach, now just sort of amble to get out the road. The dogs that once came out on the road and vigorously barked at me, now just stay under their respective vehicle homes as I go by and bark weakly, “whoof.” A herd of wild hogs usually runs away quickly at my approach. But now they just seem to grunt their complaints that had to move at all to get out of the road. The Bible says “the earth will melt with a fervent heat.” Yeah, it has to be talking about August. August in Texas challenges the strongest commitment, the most lofty aspirations, and confronts resolve with the questions: How bad do you want it? How much, how far, how deep, are you willing to go? Praise God that in the midst of the “fervent heat” my calling still stands. If I were doing this solely for myself, I would have broken and ran in July. But, this is for all those who have believed in me; who have been inspired, who have inspired, who have supported me; who have loved me even when I was broken and cast down at times in this “fervent heat.” But most of all, this is for the glory of God. No, August in Texas hasn’t beaten me just yet. Like the scripture says: Rejoice not against me, oh mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light unto me. Micah 7: 8

Monday, August 6, 2012

The August Brain Wharp

Didn't know I had it. Usually get it every year about this time: the dreaded brain wharp. Overcooking in the heat is the usual cause. This year, though, I have made a special effort on recovery from the heat infested training. I thought it was working. Then I had an idea for a blog post and tried to put it all together. It was a maze of confused thinking and unintelligle writing. I have the August brain wharp, again. Oh well, I know this won't last. How many times has this happened and each time, I have been brought back to where I make sense again, if only to myself. Life seems to be about ebb and flow along the journey and God has always let me ebb long enough before I flow to give me humility, yet, not so long that it would destroy my spirit. Tomorrow, I go out for another heat treatment. Today, it was 103. It will be OK. I will be OK. All the brain wharps I have been through haven't made any smarter, as you can tell. But, perhaps those experiences have made me wiser. I hope this makes sense...after all I am in the midst of my August brain wharp.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Just Begin

The week was getting away from me. Hold on. I need that long bike ride, but I feel so whipped. It is so hot. And, the internal dialogue continued. "Fix your water bottles for the ride" "But" "Just begin, Marv. You'll never make it happen unless you begin. Come on, take the first step: fill that water bottle." "How am I going to do this?" "Just begin." That was the same conversation I had with myself when I did my half ironman distance event. The water was so cold. My doubts were working overtime on my confidence. My thoughts became, "come on, let's just begin." Over 30 years of this stuff, I have faced this many times, and have always found that if I will just take that first step; start the momentum, I will usually get the job done, and sometimes, unexpectedly, have a great day, a great workout. If I had one only one piece of advice to give to those considering entering the fitness arena, it would be this: just begin. You just might surprise yourself.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Training for Tribulations

“Every night can’t be something to remember,” wrote the poet Rod McKuen. Sometimes days seem to fall apart right from the get-go. I had prayed about this bike ride and felt good as I pushed off on my morning venture. A rattle in the front of my bike. Where is that coming from? The brake? The wheel? Maybe a bottle rack? Oh well, but that rattle make the downhills scary. What’s that? My bar tape is dangling off the bar end. There goes the bar end cap. Better stop and retrieve it before a car smashes it. So I tied the loose end of the bar tape to the handlebar. Let’s finish this ride. Another 15 miles to go. What’s that? My Road ID just fell off and is blowing in the wind down the road. Turn around and get that. What else? Shouldn’t have asked. My Garmin started reading “ low battery.” In a few miles it went blank. Oh well. I was surprised at the ease in which I accepted all these little irritations, that kept me from really getting into the flow of a great ride. But, the end game is, that I did get training in handling irritations and inconveniences, and I will need this kind of training too. Things don’t always go smoothly. Every ride is not one to remember,but we can learn from them even if we don’t remember. The Bible says, “In the world ye shall have tribulations.” Why would I be an exception? Now if I just could just find that rattle in the front end of my bike.